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Phillies Blog Articles - August 2013

Bastardo 50 Game Suspension: Good news/bad news
by Scott Butler 8/5/13

To learn that Antonio Bastardo was suspended for 50 games for using PED's should be devastating news considering he has a 2.32 ERA this season in a terrible bullpen. In 2013, that news is little more than a conversation starter for a team with no shot at the playoffs.

So here is the good and bad news about Bastardo's suspension.

Bad news first, of course:

The Phillies lose their 7th reliever of the season.

The Phils lose the only reliever outside of Papelbon with a respectable season.

The worst bullpen in the league with an NL high 4.29 ERA stands to get worse.

Now, the good news, which immensely outnumbers the bad news:

The Phils are 11 games under .500 and 16.5 games out in the NL East with 51 games left in the season.  That means Bastardo will not hurt the Phillies playoff chances since they have none.

The Phillies will save money this year.  Bastardo was set to make $1.4 million this year, and the 50 games will be prorated, in which case the Phillies will save over $191,000.  I’m sure the Phillies owners fart that kind of money, but with CBP looking emptier and emptier each day, every little bit helps.

The Phillies will save money next year.  Now that he Bastardo has been busted, it surely will drive his price down in arbitration next year.

Now Jake Diekman can take his rightful place as the Phillies 8th inning guy and top lefty...Kidding!

This is awful news for the few of us left who actually plan to continue watching games because it makes a dreadful bullpen even worse. But of all the times to get caught, he picked a great time considering this will be the first losing season in eleven years.  And thanks to Bastardo for not fighting it (wait, did I just thank a guy who just got suspended for cheating?), he will not affect the Phils next year.

The biggest drawback of the punishment is that it wasn't given to Jonathan Papelbon.

Time to release Delmon Young, move Brown to right and Ruf to left
by Scott Butler 8/7/13

The Phillies sent Laynce Nix packing yesterday and Delmon Young might be 9 plate appearances away from becoming the next victim. The reason is simple: Young has 290 plate appearances this season and when he steps to the plate for the 300th time, he makes an extra $150,000.

So far, Young has earned $750,000 in guaranteed salary, $600,000 of a possible $2.15 million in performance and roster bonuses, and anywhere from 0 to $600,000 in weight bonuses.  All told, Young has made at least $1.35 million this season.  With Brown and Ruf in need of playing time on a team with no chance of making the playoffs, Delmon Young should not earn a penny more.

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Breaking down Chase Utley's Phillies contract extension
by Scott Butler 8/11/13

Chase Utley will be in a Phillies uniform for at least two more years. Now that it is official, here is a breakdown of Chase Utley's truly unique Phillies contract extension.

Utley's Base Contract

Utley's contract is guaranteed at 2 years/$27 million. He will receive $15 million guaranteed in 2014 and $10 million guaranteed in 2015. The contract also includes a $2 million buyout and a full no-trade clause, bringing him to $27 million in guaranteed dollars over two years. He also can earn an additional $5 million in 2015 if he is not on the DL for more than 15 days with a specific knee issue.

Vesting Options

Utley then has three vesting options based on 500 plate appearances: if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2015 he will make a guaranteed $15 million in 2016. The following two seasons are treated the same way. If Utley hits the 500 PA's in any of those seasons and finishes the year on the disabled list, he must pass a physical that states he will be able to start the following season healthy for the option to vest.

Phillies Club Options

If Utley does not reach the 500-plate appearance threshold, the Phillies can still bring him back on a club option. The options are set at $5 million, $7 million, $9 million or $11 million, based on days on the active roster. For instance, if Utley is active for 125 days he would receive $11 million the following season, and the option decreases with fewer days on the active roster.

Summary

All told, Utley can make as little as $27 million over two years and as much as $75 million over 5 years.

Breaking Down Chase Utley's contract

The contract is a great one for the Phillies. If Utley's knees fall off this season, the Phillies are only locked in for $27 million, which is just $2 million more than Lee and Howard make this year alone. If Utley is hurt, the options allow the Phillies to decide just how much they are willing to pay to keep him. If Utley is healthy, the Phillies pay $15 million per season for one of the most productive second basemen in baseball. Compare that to Robinson Cano, who stands to land a contract in the range of $20 million per year over seven years guaranteed, and you can see how reasonable a deal this becomes.

The deal is especially beneficial when considering the second-basemen who are scheduled to become free agents beyond Utley and Cano: Omar Infante is hitting .309 with 6 HRs for the Tigers and Kelly Johnson is hitting .252 with 14 HRs for the Rays. Neither players comes close to providing Utley's production.

On Chase Utley's side, as he put it, "I'm just trying to be treated fairly in the marketplace." Utley could have undoubtedly earned more in the open market, but he wanted to stay in Philadelphia and wanted to earn his money, which is an awfully strange thing to say about a ballplayer in this day and age. If he plays he gets paid, it is just that simple.

This contract speaks volumes about the character of Chase Utley. As far as I am concerned, he signed this for us. Next week, I will discuss how rare and special a signing this was from such a rare and special player.

For more on some of the quotes from Chase Utley's press conference, check out our Facebook page.

Charlie Manuel era over
by Scott Butler 8/16/13

Charlie Manuel has managed his final game for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies announced today that Manuel was fired and Ryne Sandberg will take over as interim manager.

For the first time in nearly 9 seasons the winningest manager, the man who brought Philadelphia its second World Championship and possibly the best era in Phillies history will no longer command the dugout. It was a move we all expected, but it was a move that came way too soon.

Charlie made it clear that he did not want to leave. “I did not resign and I did not quit. I want to tell you something, I never quit nothin’ and I didn’t resign.”

Expect much more on this soon, but for now here are some stats and quotes about the firing of Charlie Manuel.

Charlie Manuel is the winningest manager in Phillies history with a record of 780-636 and a .551 winning percentage. Charlie finished 144 games above .500 with a .551 winning percentage and an average of 89 wins per season.

Charlie owned the second-half with a .606 winning percentage after the all-star break, which works out to 98 wins over a full season.

Ruben Amaro also summed it up nicely: He’s won a World Series. He's won five consecutive league championships. He’s clearly one of the most decorative managers in the history of our franchise."

Here is some of what Charlie said at the press conference:

Charlie Manuel Quotes

"I'm mad because they took the best seat in the house away from me."

“To tell you the truth, when I watch the game tonight I’m gonna be mad.”

Asked about what it will mean not to put on the uniform he said, "I love wearing that uniform. I would put it on today if I could."

“I can not explain to you what the last nine years, or eight and a half or whatever’s, meant to me.  I’ve had some of the greatest times I’ve ever had in my life.  Philadelphia has been the highlight of my career.  I love everything about the fans, the city.  I talk Phillie baseball everywhere I go.”

And there was one of my favorite quotes after the Phillies won the World Series:

"Listen. This is for Philadelphia."

Charlie Manuel leaves with a broken heart
by Scott Butler 8/18/13

Charlie Manuel Phillies
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Charlie Manuel lost the love of his life on Friday. Charlie arrived at Citizens Bank Park wearing a pink button down shirt instead of the familiar red pinstripes he wore for nine seasons as Phillies manager. It was not his wardrobe of choice.

The decision to remove Manuel as skipper of the Philadelphia Phillies made sense in many ways, but it is difficult to evoke pragmatism when you observe the heart ripped out from the chest of a 69-year-old man. The bumbling Charlie of Mayberry with the thick southern draw similarly pulled at the heart strings of anyone watching Friday's solemn press conference. For a man lacking the gift of oratory, it only took a few words to reveal his pain.

"I love wearing that uniform," a reflective Charlie said. "I would put it on today if I could have."

...if I could have...

Managers lose jobs when teams don't play well and Charlie understands that as much as anyone. His pain stems not as much from the firing itself as the fact that he lost the game he loves so much.

"I'm mad because they took the best seat in the house away from me," Charlie said.

He was mad because he wanted so badly to step onto that field at 10 am like he always does, stand behind the batting cage as he always does, offer a positive phrase and a handshake to his players as he always does, and watch the game he loves as he always does.

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Fun facts and trivia from last night's epic 18-inning game
by Scott Butler 8/25/13

Some days it is truly a wonderful thing to own a DVR and I am glad I used it last night. Anyone who lasted the entire game did not get to bed until well past 2 am in an 18-inning marathon.  

The Phillies came oh-so-close to earning their 4th straight walk-off win, which would have been one shy of the record of 5 straight walk-offs by the Royals in 2000. Of course that did not happen, but there was plenty of other trivia to go around. Here are some fun facts from last night’s epic game.

2:12 am finish.

7 hours and 6 minutes in duration, a record for the Phillies and D-Backs.

44 total players used combined.

20 pitchers used, tying an MLB record.

712 total pitches – 395 for Phillies and 317 for D-Backs.

28 walks combined – 18 walks issued by Phillies set a franchise record.

Cloyd threw 91 pitches in five scoreless innings, all coming in extra innings.

Phillies used two position players as pitchers for first time in franchise history.

Casper Wells threw 40 pitches in the 18th inning. His fastball velocity was consistently between 90-91 mph and he also featured a changeup.

The Phillies were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 17 runners, 11 in extras.

Diamondbacks had 6 players with 10 plate appearances.

Did firing Charlie Manuel put Amaro's job on the line?
by Scott Butler 8/25/13

As much as I feel Ruben Amaro needs to be fired, I never got the impression that his job was in any real jeopardy. I’m starting to question that now. 

It is quite possible that firing Charlie Manuel cost Ruben Amaro his job. David Montgomery is extremely loyal and reluctant to fire “family members,” which made Amaro's decision to fire mid-season the winningest manager in Phillies history and a man that David Montgomery hired so surprising.

In a recent radio interview Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Well the Phillies traditionally — and this goes all the way back to the Carpenter family — they are very, very slow to change personnel, and they’re very loyal to their people."

It’s one thing if this was a group decision, but I have heard no reports that Montgomery was involved at all in the decision. 

After the firing was announced Montgomery said, "Ruben Amaro let me know on Wednesday I think that he and Charlie had been visiting over this road trip and I understand that, appropriately so, that he felt it was time to let Charlie know about his decision."

Amaro made this move on his own.

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Domonic Brown very average after hot streak
by Scott Butler 8/27/13

Which stat lines represent Domonic Brown's offensive statistics since his hot streak unofficially ended on June 8 ?

a) .275 AVG, 12 HR, 48 RBI

b) .280 AVG, 5 HR, 40 RBI

c) .256 AVG, 8 HR, 33 RBI

d) .239 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBI

The correct answer is c. Since June 8, Domonic Brown is hitting .256 with 8 HR and 33 RBI in 56 games. Here are his stats in the last 56 games.

Domonic Brown Since June 8
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
56 232 211 25 54 9 2 8 33 2 2 18 42 .256 .310 .431 .742

Work those numbers over a full season and he would have a .256 average, .310 on-base percentage, 23 home runs, and 95 RBI. His RBI total is nice but the rest of his numbers are mediocre. What we have with DoBo over the last two plus months is a player with a low batting average, fairly decent power, good production, a reasonable number of strikeouts, and an average amount of walks.

What should we make of those numbers?

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Phillie for life: Chase Utley signed his contract for the fans
by Scott Butler 8/27/13

When Chase Utley drove to work on August 7th, he knew he left a very important document sitting on a table somewhere waiting for his signature. This document would guarantee him $27 million and all he needed to do was go to a doctor for a physical, sign Chase Cameron Utley, and the money was his.

Somewhere in his mind behind those intense eyes, Utley drove to Citizens Bank park knowing that if he could remain upright for one game he would be $27 million richer. So what did Chase do in that game? He slammed his creaky, chronically hurting knees into a 205 pound catcher draped in plastic equipment.

With complete awareness of the new contract, Utley raced around third base with the score tied in the seventh inning and prepared to slide into home plate with the go-ahead run. Chase realized at the last minute that Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro was blocking the plate, so he changed his approach mid slide, planted his foot, and plunged his knee and shoulder into Navarro.

It didn't matter that he was less than 24 hours away from signing a multi-million dollar contract. It didn't matter that it was essentially a meaningless game for a bad baseball team. All that mattered was that Navarro was blocking his path to the go-ahead run.

That is Chase Utley.

Chase is a rare and special player whose tireless work ethic and extreme intensity could eventually make him a legend in Philadelphia.

Utley reminded us just how special he is with his recent contract extension, a hometown discount if I ever there was. Utley could have tested free agency and would have received more money - that is a fact.

Why would a player do that? Take less money on a team with aspirations for 90 losses? It might be because he doesn't want to move his family. It could be that his wife told him to stay. It could be that he loves the city of Philadelphia. Or it could be as simple as being too lazy to move. But I believe he signed this contract for us. The fans.

This contract only locks the Phillies in for an average of $13.5 million over two years. $13.5 million for one of the most productive second basemen and the opportunity, if he remains healthy, to keep him until 2018 when he will be 39.

Now don't get me wrong, people who accept 26 million dollars don't win Nobel Peace Prizes. But this was a classy move by a player who put the needs of others ahead of himself. It is not altogether unheard of, but it is a rarity in today's game. Ryan Howard would accept nothing less than top money. Jayson Werth did the same and left town. So did Aaron Rowand.

This says what we already knew about Chase. That team comes first...in everything. It is why he busts it down the line, it is why he spends countless days and hours preparing his knees throughout the entire calendar year, and it is why he gave a hometown discount. It is also why Chase Utley should be a Phillie for life.

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